Have you ever wanted to play some online games, but all your friends were busy? You use the built in matchmaking features to play against strangers, but it just seemed like you got paired up with people who you don't get along with, or who don't suit your style of play? The developers of GamerLink think they have a solution.
GamerLink is a matchmaking service, currently in its Alpha stage, which uses a larger number of variables to try and make better matches for gamers and lead to a more enjoyable gaming experience. I talked with Ryan Figueiredo, one of the co-founders of GamerLink, to find out what it's all about and what makes it better than currently existing matchmaking services.
TechRaptor: Can you introduce yourself and give us a little background on yourself and your fellow co-founder?
Ryan: Sure! My name is Ryan Figueiredo and I’m a 21 year old entrepreneur with past experience running and operating my own personal business. I’m a wizard at gaming, constantly teleporting between my countless number of consoles and gaming platforms. I'm not only passionate about gaming, but I also have a digital sweet tooth for new and interesting technology.
My co-founder is Deion Farrington, who is 22 years old and an entrepreneur at heart. While he never completed Wizard Academy, he is the other genius mind behind GamerLink. He is a hardcore gamer with a passion for bacon and helping the online gaming community he grew up in.
TR: How did you come up with the idea for GamerLink?
R: Me and my co-founder both like to game, a lot. We also lived together during college which is where we discovered that we owned a lot of similar games across a wide variety of consoles, handhelds and on PC/Mac. So we took advantage of this newfound gaming freedom to try games we may not have played in a while, because we now had someone always available to play them with.
As our last semester living together was coming to an end, we came to the realization that since we would be living in different places, syncing up our game time as well as we did living together would be next to impossible. But it also didn't make any sense that we only gamed with each other. There are hundreds of millions of gamers in the world, and we knew there had to be some of them we’d enjoy gaming with when the other person wasn’t available.
So we set out to create a way for gamers like us to consistently find other gamers that they’d enjoy gaming with, regardless of game or platform. We also wanted to make it real-time, so they could quickly find these custom-tailored gamers whenever they’re in the zone. Finally, we knew it had to be customizable as each gamer is looking for something slightly different. All of these combined has led to the creation of the world’s first Universal, Real-Time, Customizable gamer matchmaking service, GamerLink.
TR: What makes GamerLink different from other video game matchmaking services? What does it offer that others don't?
R: GamerLink stands out because of our unique approach to solving the problem of terrible matchmaking in video games. Many matchmaking services, whether third-party or build-in, tend to focus on connecting gamers using only a handful of one-dimensional stats such as Rank, Level, Kill/Death ratio, Elo or something similar. We call these stats one-dimensional because they each only provide a limited amount of information about a gamer; not nearly enough to connect two random gamers in any meaningful way.
To solve this, we’ve decided to create a gamer matchmaking service that allows the gamer to use a wide variety of these one-dimensional stats (related to the game they’d like to play) to specify both their own gaming preferences and the gaming preferences of the gamer they’d like to play with. We then combine these preferences with information from each users hidden “Gamer Profile”, which details their age, location, owned games/platforms and other personal information. By intelligently combining all this data, GamerLink can now have a clear picture of who each gamer is and what they’re looking for. This allows GamerLink to connect gamers with an unprecedented amount of accuracy, while still leaving the control in the gamers hands.
TR: On the official site it mentions that there will be two versions of the app, a free version and a full version that costs money. What are the differences between the two versions? Does the free version still offer some benefits that make it useful for gamers?
R: The main difference between the full and free versions of GamerLink is in how you search for another gamer. In the Full version (~$2 /month), you will be able to specify both your gaming preferences and the gaming preferences of the person you’d like to game with. Once you’re happy with your set preferences, you’ll start the magic and GamerLink will automatically search for other active gamers that fit the profile of the gamer you’re looking for. Once found, you’ll be presented with a “Compatibility %” that visually indicates how close any gamer found was to what you were looking for.
We absolutely want the Free version of GamerLink to be useful for gamers, so the only feature that will be missing is the real-time part of the search. Instead, you will be presented with a list of gamers currently looking to play with a brief preview of each gamers preference(s). You can browse this list until you’ve found a gamer that’s caught your eye, or you can use the built in filter to define what gamers are displayed on your list (using similar preferences as those in the real-time search). Finally, you’ll also be able to add your own name to the list, along with setting your personal gaming preferences to help other gamers find you. This will still provide a way to search for and connect with other like-minded gamers, but with more manual effort required.
TR: Currently your app is in an alpha version and is being tested with a small group of gamers. What can you tell us about this alpha? Has GamerLink performed as well as you hoped? Are there any unexpected problems that have come up during the Alpha that you have to work on?
R: We’ve been testing, re-building and listening to feedback for the Alpha for the last 6 months and, even though what we have currently is just a small preview of what’s to come, we’ve gotten tons of positive feedback from our following of a few thousand gamers across our networks! So far, the Alpha has a lot of the features described in what will be the Free version, although a lot buggier :)
While the response for GamerLink has been unanimously positive, the rate of development we’ve had for the last few months has been significantly lower than what we would have liked, due to us funding GamerLink ourselves. However, both myself and my co-founder are used to tackling problems together and we’ve managed to still get GamerLink and the community built up to a point where we feel confident in launching a Kickstarter. We expect much more problems to arise going forward, especially with something this ambitious, but we’re fully prepared to tackle them head-on.
TR: The Alpha version was developed for Android, but you do have plans to reach other platforms as well, right? Can you tell us what other platforms you'd like to release GamerLink on, and how high a priority you consider the different platforms to be?
R: Absolutely! We’ve gotten requests to launch the GamerLink service on everything from Windows Phone to a web client, and we’d love to make GamerLink as accessible to every gamer as possible. However, we did have to make a decision on where to start first and after a lot of discussion we concluded that it made the most sense to start on mobile devices. We didn’t want the process of finding a gamer to feel like you were tied down to a certain location, and mobility gives us that freedom. In addition, most gamers tend to have their smartphone within arms reach at all times so it only made sense to try and take advantage of this constant mobile connection to the gaming world.
We decided to build the GamerLink Alpha on Android devices first as that is the ecosystem we are most familiar with, and many of the tech-savvy gamers seemed to prefer Android. Our upcoming Kickstarter campaign is to raise the funds to build the Beta version of GamerLink on both Android and iOS devices, with a stretch goal aiming for the development of a web/browser client. Of course, this is just the start and we intend to launch GamerLink on anything that can run it. The priority for now, however, would be an iOS, Android and web version.
TR: Can you tell us about your upcoming Kickstarter campaign? When will it start and how long will it last? How much money you want to raise, and what it will be used for? I understand if some of these details are still being worked out, but if that's the case try and give us a rough idea at least of what you are planning.
R: Certainly! This Kickstarter will be a huge part of GamerLink’s legacy and we’re excited to see if the world is as ready for GamerLink as we are. The campaign will be launching in the second week of February, and will run for 30 days. During this time we will be attempting to raise between $20000 - $30000, which will allows us to build and launch the GamerLink Beta on both Android and iOS devices. A stretch goal of $10000 for the web version of GamerLink will also be included. We’ve been preparing for this Kickstarter for the last two months, and it’s quick approach is exciting and frightening at the same DAMN time.
TR: Is there anything else you would like to add, or you think people should know about GamerLink?
R: The biggest factor in making GamerLink a reality and really showing its full potential will be a large amount of active gamers. The more there are on GamerLink, the more likely you’ll be to find the kind of gamer you’re looking for. This is one of the reasons we want GamerLink to be free and accessible to all gamers, to provide True Gaming Freedom for everyone!